Following low key support slots from Gynmast and Karima Francis, the latter baring an uncannily familiar appearance evoking Pattie Smith and any of the Ramones, Luke Sital-Singh enters to an audience apparently in a state of reverie. Wading through the purple light that illuminates the smoky Gorilla stage, Sital-Singh delivers not a word to his audience, launching instead straight into set opener ‘I Have Been A Fire’.
The power of Sital-Singh’s voice is immediately evidenced, far exceeding anything that could be expected from his tame recordings. His originally dour demeanour quickly fades away. Following third song ‘21st Century Heartbeat’, Sital-Singh tells his energetic audience “this is quite depressing music, don’t forget.” Later he will invite them to join him in celebrating ‘deprestival’, his response to “too many fucking festivals.”
Parallels could be drawn to Jeff Buckley in Sital-Singh’s performance. Soaring, often biting, vocals accompany guitar playing that set him ahead of rival heartbroken singer-songwriters. His stage persona? Sarcastic—he’s unimpressed. The only stumble in an otherwise flawless set comes when Sital-Singh botches the opening of ‘Honest Man’ from his debut EP Fail For You. Even this is passed off—”it’s a shit song anyway,” declares the singer-songwriter, visibly feeding off an audience he brands “the best on the tour.”
For a young performer, Sital-Singh evidences both his confidence and his inherent ability to craft songs of genuine sensitivity. Set closers ‘Nothing Stays the Same’ and ‘Fail for You’ hold the crowd at total attention, the first rousing a massive sing-along in the small, full to capacity, venue. “If you want another hour, pay another tenner” he tells his audience as he leaves the stage. His coolness, however, is undermined by the beaming smile that accompanies him as he scampers backstage, away from his plaudits.